Public Health Litigation: Possibilities and Pitfalls

Friday, April 17, 2020
Northeastern University 

Register Online

In the 1990s, lawsuits against tobacco companies focused the public’s attention on a deadly public health epidemic, unearthed critical and shocking information through discovery, and changed the political dynamics regarding regulation. Since then, we’ve seen how litigation can help change industry practices, discourage consumption and sometimes fund public health efforts. Public health advocates, as well as states and municipalities, have sued gun manufacturers, fast food restaurants, e-cigarette companies, manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids and contributors to climate change, all with an eye to improving public health.

Nonetheless, affirmative public health litigation continues to face numerous obstacles. These include federal and state preemption, limitations on class actions, and questions about whether litigation can achieve effective public health changes. 

Please join us in April as leading academics, activists and policymakers gather for this future-focused conference that will explore the possibilities and pitfalls of litigating in the public health context as we move forward.

Richard DaynardHonoring
, University Distinguished Professor of Law and president of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern Law, for his pioneering leadership at the forefront of the international movement to establish the legal responsibility of the tobacco industry for tobacco-induced death, disease and disability.

>> Download the invitation

Call for Papers

The Center for Health Policy and Law, in collaboration with the Northeastern University Law Review, seeks abstracts for papers to be presented at its 2020 health law conference, Public Health Litigation: Possibilities and Pitfalls 

Abstracts (250 words max) will be accepted until November 8, 2019. Please send to: with “2019 Call for Papers” in the subject line.  

Our Call for Papers announcement has additional details. 

2020 Health Law Conference Program

12:30 PM 

Registration Opens

1:00 PM


Wendy E. Parmet
Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law
Faculty Director, Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University School of Law
Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
Jennifer Lea Huer
Managing Director, Center for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University School of Law
Lecturer, Bouvé  College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University 

1:30 - 4:00 PM

Paper Workshop
In collaboration with the Northeastern University Law Review (NULR), we issued a Call for Papers for this workshop. See above for additional information. Selected authors will present their papers during the workshop and commentators will offer feedback during the session. 

4:15 - 6:00 PM 

Community Discussion
Climate Change Litigation

Richard Daynard 
University Distinguished Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law
President, Public Health Advocacy Institute

Staci Rubin '10
Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)